Experiences - Asia

Shanghai Soup Dumpling (Xiaolongbao)

The Shanghai Soup Dumpling or Xiaolongbao is a famous Chinese yum char. This tantalising, dreamy snack is probably the most famous dish to come out of Shanghai.

Shanghai Soup Dumpling - Xiaolongbao

Image Courtesy: travel oriented used under the Creative Commons Licence

The soup is essentially a gel of concentrated liquid made of pork bones and pig skin. It naturally “gels” from the gelatine of both items. The skin is a mixture of all-purpose and lower gluten flours to get a pliable, tender kind of skin. Heat from steaming melts the gelatine-gelled aspic into soup.

There are two different varieties of the pork filling. Some use pork rind jelly while the others use stock directly. One popular and common variant is pork with minced crab meat and roe. Recently, other meats, seafood and vegetarian fillings have become common as a filling.

Traditionally, xiaolongbao is a kind of dim sum or xiaochi (snack). The buns are served hot in the bamboo baskets in which they are steamed, usually on a bed of dried leaves, paper mat, or Napa cabbage. The buns are usually dipped in Zhenjiang vinegar with ginger slivers. They are normally served with a clear soup on the side.

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